How many years have you been in the business? Tell us briefly about your background and your current position today.
I am a part time sales associate at DCanter Wines in Washington, DC. DCanter is one of the best wine shops in DC. Our selections are by smaller producers that practice organic or biodynamic farming. While my professional background is in International Exchange and Communications, wine has been a passion of mine turned into part time career option. As a BIPOC woman with disabilities I am using this opportunity to expand my knowledge and network so that I can make this industry more accessible to others like me.
Did you have a particular “aha!” moment that propelled you into wine?
I have always enjoyed wine. I never thought that it was a career option until a friend of mine asked me, "If you could do something you love and get paid for it, what would you do?" And i immediately thought about wine. Then i realized there weren't many platforms for people with disabilities or BIPOC in wine, and that's what made me want to keep going.
What is the most rewarding part of what you do?
Using my knowledge to help others. I love when customers tell me they loved my recommendations or when community members give positive feedback to the ASL friendly content I put out.
What do you do to create wellness balance in your life? Any particular activity, practices, etc that are meaningful to you?
Daning, Taekwondo and boba breaks. Each of these bring a particular level of peace and joy to my life and keep me grounded.
What changes do you hope to see in the wine industry in the next five years?
I'd like to see more Deaf people thrive in the industry. Especially deaf people of color.
What does equality in the wine industry look like to you?
Accessibility and representation. It'd be great if wine education was not only affordable but also fully accessible to people of all abilities. It's be great to see more diversity in the field in a way that isn't tokenism.
How do you feel you’re contributing to creating a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive wine industry?
As a Black Deaf Woman, I can honestly say that if I can't find another person with those three adjective easily in the field, just showing up makes a difference. Because someone may see me and say, I'm here too, then that pool of representation grows. Trying to show up in wine spaces with calls for accessibility helps others to learn how to do this/show up for others that need this support.
What advice would you give to someone starting their career in the same sector of the wine industry as you?
Be audacious and don't be afraid to be wrong. I struggle with my confidence in this industry sometimes. But there's nothing that good food and good wine can't fix. It brings us together. As long as you remember why you're doing this, no one can stop you. If a door closes, build your own.
Name some people who inspire you in the wine industry and please explain why.
Peter Cooke. He's a deaf WSET 3 Cert and he's making a huge difference in the industry. Laura Brown-Urnstein partnered with Peter to create Uncorked Access, a space that educates the wine industry on accessibility. I am in awe of what they are doing and hope to contribute. I also am inspired by everyone at DCanter. Michael and Michelle not only sell wine, they have created a community. Matt Loreman is a master at what he does. JP is a powerhouse who is versed in wine communications. Charlotte and Beth are also some of the most knowledgeable folks I know. This team is somewhat intimidating, but super fun to work with. There are other icons out there I admire, but I think gaining inspiration from those closest to you has its own appeal.